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News Archives
August 1998
Our Goal: To improve the livability of Florence through public education and community involvement.

8/29/98 - Florence Power Line Lawsuit Gets Hearing
8/28/98 - Florence Due in Court Over Sewer Squabble
8/27/98 - City Response to Sewer Moratorium Threat
8/25/98 - Capes Owners File $30 million Suit
8/23/98 - The Incredible Shrinking Dunes
8/20/98 - Investors Sue Mall Developer

8/18/98 - Request for Sewer Moratorium in Florence
8/14/98 - DLCD Director Remarks to Eugene City Club
8/13/98 - Veneta Gets Grant For Sewer System
8/11/98 - Lawsuit Filed Against Local Florence Developer

8/11/98 - CFF's 1st Annual Deep Pockets Yard Sale August 29
8/5/98   - Pay Raise Not in the Future for Florence City Manager
8/5/98   - Federal Disease Investigators Study Texas Outbreak
8/4/98   - Testimony 8/3 Regarding July 21 Chemical Dump and Florence Sewage Spill

8/4/98   - Texas Sewage Spill - Residents Demand Answers
8/28/98 - Florence Due in Court Over Sewer Squabble -- The debate about continued growth in Florence will receive federal attention next month. U.S. District Magistrate Thomas Coffin will hear arguments on Sept. 14 in federal court in Eugene on the motion asking that the city be held liable for violations of the Clean Water Act and that the court set a moratorium on new sewer hookups, retroactive to June 1997. 

Charlie Tebbutt, an attorney with Western Environmental Law Center's office in Eugene representing the coalition, said the coalition asked that the moratorium be made retroactive because it put the city on notice last June that it intended on filing a federal suit for violations of the Clean Water Act. The coalition claims the city violated that act by allowing raw and partially treated sewage to seep into the Siuslaw River.

Tebbutt said the coalition will also ask Coffin to set a trial date for it to seek punitive damages. In its complainted filed in October 1997, the coalition alleged the city violated federal and sate laws dealing with sewage disposal more than 175 times since 1994. The lawsuit cited statutes that allow up to a $27,000 fine for each violation.

Eight businesses and 104 residents have connected to the city sewer since June 1997, according to city records. The owner of a home or business being built must obtain a permit from the city to connect. The city is operating its sewage treatment plant under an agreement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality that it work toward building a new treatment plant. The DEQ allows the city to exceed state standards for dumping treated sewage into the river until the new plant is ocmpleted in June 2000.

Tebbutt said an agreement with DEQ isn't enough to protect the environment. He contends the city should have immediately stopped new sewer hookups while it fixes its problems with the treatment plant, and new users should have been informed of the potential litigation by the city and through public meetings on the issue. Source: The World Newspaper, August 28, 1998, by Paul Noel.

Also see: Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition Article

8/29/98 - Florence Power Line Lawsuit Gets Hearing -- Thirteen homeowners who filed a lawsuit in 1997 challenging the installation of a high-voltage line behind their homes will get their day in court Monday. The case will be argued in Lane County Circuit Court during a summary judgment hearing. 

“People of Wise Energy Regulation” (POWER) claim the city and Central Lincoln People’s Utility District have no right to run the high-voltage line behind their homes on 24th Street because the alley was acquired for limited uses. “This dedication was made (in 1975) to allow employees of the city of Florence to access the city’s water filtration plant and water lines located at the eastern end of the alley,” homeowners claim in the suit.

A power line currently runs behind the homes in a PUD right of way. The additional line will feed a substation planned for the new industrial park at the west end of town near the Florence Municipal Airport, said PUD spokesman Gary Cockerum.

The homeowners say the electric line will significantly decrease the value of their property. They want that amount to be determined at a trial. The judge will hear arguments from both sides and make a decision without the assistance of a jury.

John Neuner, one of the plaintiffs, said he hopes the decision will bring a quick end to the case. “The original dedication allows for administrative uses only,” Neuner said. “That means that (they) can use it for meter reading and taking trucks back there to repair water lines.” 

But City Manager Ken Hobson said the city will argue that no restrictions can be put on an alley. “Any use is valid for the use of an alley,” he said. The city feels an alley is an alley is an alley.” 

Prior to filing the lawsuit, the homeowners asked that the electric line be buried rather than strung across on power poles, to cut down on the electromagnetic field (EMF) generated by high voltage. But Cockerum said dirt does not cut down on the EMF. “You could expect the EMF to be higher with an underground line,” he said. “But that’s a moot point anyway. The National Institute of Health recently decided there is no indication that EMFs cause cancer or present a significant health risk.” Source: Coos Bay World, August 29, 1998, by Paul Noel.

8/18/98 - Request for Sewer Moratorium in Florence -- On August 14, 1998, the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition filed a motion in Federal Court requesting the City of Florence be held liable for violations of the Clean Water Act and requesting the court order a moratorium on all new sewer hook-ups until the new sewage treatment plant is completed. Arguments will be held on September 14 at Federal Court, 10:30 a.m. Source: Federal Court Records, Case No. 97-6267-TC. (Also see OSCC v. City of Florence - Excerpts)

8/23/98 - The Incredible Shrinking Dunes -- Link to: Article from The Seattle Times, August 23, 1998. Also see: Are Your Dunes for Sale?

8/27/98 - City Responds to Sewer Moratorium Threat -- Charles Tebbutt, an attorney for the Eugene-based Western Environmental Law Center, is representing the Oregon Shores (Conservation Coalition) group. He said his clients are primarily interested in implementing a moratorium following more than a year of negotiations with the city that haven't led to a settlement. "The plaintiffs (OSCC) have been very generous and very patient, but the time has come to move forward since resolution can't be reached at this point," Tebbutt said. 

Florence City Manager Ken Hobson said city leaders oppose the moratorium because while they believe it would undoubtedly harm the city's economy, it's less than certain that future spills would occur before the new plant is completed or that sewage would cause environmental damage.

However, documents filed by Oregon Shores include a statement from Jack Smith, a Portland wastewater engineering consultant, that "each addition of a new user to the city of Florence sewerage system will increase the likely number of overflows and bypasses from the system, and the magnitude (volumes and durations) of those overflows and bypasses." Since the city won't voluntarily impose a moratorium, Tebbutt said his clients felt it was time to seek the court ban. (See: Documents filed in Federal Court)

Hobson said he will be interested in how Coffin (the federal court judge) regards a list of other Oregon communities in much the same situation as Florence. Will he consider it fair, Hobson asks, to single out Florence for such sanctions? The moratorium would put a crimp in the city's plans to recruit new tenants for a $2.4 million industrial park taking shape near the airport and would cost construction jobs, Hobson said.

Even if there is another sewage spill before the new sewer plant comes on line, he said, its possible effect on the Siuslaw River needs to be put into perspective. "It's not a pristine river we have out here," he said. "There's a lot of stuff (pollution) coming down that river all the time. Whatever we might do at any given time is a very marginal addition." Source: Excerpts from Article in Eugene Register Guard, August 27, 1998, by Larry Bacon.
(Also see: Sewage Spills in Florence)

8/20/98 - Investors Sue Developer of Florence Outlet Mall

A $1.8 million lawsuit alleging fiscal mismanagement by a company that has been spearheading efforts to build a factory outlet mall in Florence will not endanger the project, the firm’s vice president said Wednesday.

Delbert Phelps, vice president of Florentine Enterprises, said the lawsuit was based on family unhappiness with the company, not mismanagement. “It’s absolutely not true,” Phelps said of the lawsuit. Phelps is one of four Florentine board members named along with the corporation in the lawsuit, filed by five stockholders in the privately held business. The company owns 17 acres at the north edge of Florence, on which Centers West Realty of Lake Oswego plans to build a 40-store mall at a cost of about $14 million. Florentine also has developed a 433-unit subdivision for retirees, called Florentine Estates.

Two of the plaintiffs, Kathy Rosecrans of Florence and Linda Lovato of Albuquerque, N.M., are the daughters of Dolores Phelps, Delbert Phelps’ ex-wife. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month, four days after the couple’s divorce. Other plaintiffs are Lovato’s husband, Frank Lovato, and Steve and Ronnie Latham of Florence. Other defendants are Florentine President Randy Miller, Anthony Giangrande and Robert Muirhead, all members of a LaHabra, California accounting firm.

The proposed outlet mall is on hold because Citizens For Florence, a local group opposing the project, has appealed city approval of needed planning and zoning changes. The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals is expected to hand down a decision Sept. 4. Phelps said he is optimistic that the project will move forward after the state ruling. Bob Smith, president of Centers West, said the lawsuit has not affected his plans for the outlet mall.

But Rosecrans said the lawsuit could affect Florentine’s ability to proceed, particularly if the matter goes to trial and other stockholders learn details of the financial improprieties alleged in the suit. Rosecrans said she could not go into specifics without consulting her attorney, but the suit seeks $1.5 million in damages as a result of actions by defendants that constituted “breach of fiduciary duty, self dealing, waste, depletion of corporate assets, usurpation of corporate opportunity (and) mismanagement.” In addition, the Lovatos are seeking $271,040 in damages they contend resulted from the defendants misrepresenting the value of their stock. Rosecrans objected to Phelps’ statement that the lawsuit was based on a family fight. “It has nothing to do with family and nothing to do with my mom and he splitting up,” she said.

Rosecrans said she hopes the matter can be settled out of court. Although he hasn’t been served with the lawsuit, Phelps said the corporation is prepared to defend itself. He said the plaintiffs own about 10% of the stock. Part of the problem, Rosecrans said, is that because the plaintiffs don’t have a controlling interest, they have not been properly informed about the corporation’s actions. One of the objectives of the lawsuit is to give the plaintiffs an accounting of Florentine’s assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses, profits and losses. Source: Register Guard Newspaper, August 20, 1998, by Larry Bacon. (Also see: CFF v. City of Florence)

8/25/98 - Capes Owners File $30 million Suit -- The lawsuit that many Tillamook County residents have considered as inevitable as the ocean tides washed up Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Homeowners at The Capes, an expensive ocean front subdivision perched atop an eroding 170-foot-tall bluff near Oceanside, filed a $30 million lawsuit against the developer and others. 

"We allege the developer was fraudulent for not telling (the homeowners about things he knew about before we bought here," said Thomas Miller, a Newport Beach, Calif., attorney who is representing more than 100 homeowners as well as The Capes Homeowners Association.

At one point during the winter, more than 30 homes were considered in danger of sliding down a bluff and onto the beach below, but all of the structures remain in place. As waves churned up by El Nino calmed this summer, much of the wave-stripped beach at the base of the cliff has built back, but experts warn erosion could resume this winter. Gov. John Kitzhaber has denied a request for riprap to protect the bluff from further erosion.

The lawsuit targets The Capes Development Co., headed by Franklin Piacentini of Portland, and Marshall Grimberg, Inc., which Miller said helped plan and market the development approved by Tillamook County in 1991 and 1992. Engineers and contractors also are named as defendants.

Miller said the $30 million figure includes the development’s loss of market value -- the townhouse-style duplexes once were selling for up to $400,000 -- and the cost to stabilize the hillside, if that’s possible. The lawsuit leaves open the question of possible punitive damages.

Steve Bender, an associate professor at the University of Oregon School of Law who specializes in coastal real estate issues, said The Capes lawsuit will likely raise some of the same issues that were debated after the erosion of home son the Salishan Spit in Lincoln County more than 20 years ago. Miller predicted the case could go to trial in the next 18 months, but Bender thought the proceedings could stretch on for years. “It’s likely this will be in the courts maybe longer than the homes are left standing,” he said. Source: Excerpts from Eugene Register Guard Article, August 25, 1998, by Larry Bacon.

Veneta Gets Grant for Sewer System

The city will use a $742,000 grant from the Oregon Economic Development Department to design and engineer improvements to its 30-year-old wastewater system.

Veneta has a sewer-connection moratorium because of concerns abou pollution of the Long Tom River. During wet weather, too much discharge is getting into the river, according to a release from the OEDD.

The grant, in addition to $167,000 from the DEQ and $84,500 from the city of Veneta, will fund the design of a new wastewater treatment plant and other improvements.

The work is part of a $7.35 million project to update the system that the city hopes to complete by 2000. Source: Eugene Register Guard, August 13, 1998.

Lawsuit Filed Against Florence Outlet Mall Developer

Kathy Rosecrans, Steve Latham, Ronnie Latham, Linda Lovato and Frank Lovato vs. Anthony Giangrande and Randy Miller, individually and doing business as Miller and Giangrande, Certified Public Accountants; Robert Muirhead, Delbert Phelps and Florentine Enterprises, Inc.  Plaintiffs allege tortious misrepresentation, fraud, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, depletion of corporate assets, self dealing, mismanagement and ultra vires acts. Suit seeks a judgment ordering and requiring defendant Florentine Enterprises, Inc. to submit its financial, accounting and corporate records to plaintiffs inspection; an accounting of Florentine Enterprises Inc.'s assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses, profits and losses; compensatory damages to L. Lovato and F. Lovato of at least $271,040; and a judgment of at least $1.5 million. Source: Eugene Register Guard, August 11, 1998, Circuit Court Complaints filed Aug. 7, 1998.

CFF's 1st Annual Deep Pockets Yard Sale August 29

Citizens For Florence will be holding its first annual Deep Pockets Yard Sale. Some time ago, someone said that CFF had better have "deep pockets" if they wanted to continue with their efforts to keep Florence liveable. Well, it's about a year and a half later, and CFF is still going strong. But the "deep pockets" euphamism was accurate - it takes money to fight money.

So CFF is having a yard sale to raise money to pay for legal fees from the appeal of the re-zoning which would allow development of an outlet mall north of town, continued research into the workings of City Hall, publication of newsletters, this web page, and continued public information activities. To date, CFF has been instrumental in convincing the City Council that Fred Meyer's stormwater plan needed improvement, that plans for the new sewage treatment plant needed improvement, that the community needed to have council meetings videotaped, that the public should receive better notice when sewage spills happened, and that a Stormwater Management Plan was needed as soon as possible. Check out our Annual Report and Newsletters to see what we've accomplished already. 

None of this would have been possible without the continuing support of the Florence community and CFF's many volunteers.

If you have items to donate to the yard sale, call 997-5432, leave a message, and someone will get back to you to arrange a pick up of your items. And don't forget, stop by the CFF First Annual Deep Pockets Yard Sale on Saturday, August 29. Browse around, and then go down to Bi-Mart to see the Safety Fair. Source: CFF Webkeeper.

Pay Raise Not in the Future for Florence City Manager

The City Council has voted to not give City Manager Ken Hobson a cost of living raise this year. Hobson is paid $72,000 a year plus benefits, for an annual total of about $96,000.

The council denied him a 3% raise on a 3-2 vote with Mayor Roger McCorkle and Councilman Dave Braley voting against the motion. Braley had moved to give Hobson a $1,000-a-year raise, but that motion also lost on a 3-2 vote.

Councilor Chip Rosecrans said he felt giving the raise would be an example of overspending. "I believe government is getting out of control and I believe wages are getting out of control, and I personally believe our city manager isn't worth close to $100,000 a year," he said.

Hobson is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment. Source: Coos Bay World Newspaper, August 5, 1998, by Paul Noel.

Federal Disease Investigators study Texas Outbreak

Three federal disease investigators from Atlanta went door-to-door in Brushy Creek (Texas) on Tuesday, collecting blood and stool samples from residents to study the health effects of a sewage spill that tainted water wells. "Our goal is to try and find out why certain individuals in a household have varying degrees of the infection," said Bruce Furness, an epidemic intelligence officer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 20 of 59 people tested for Cryptosporidium have been found to be infected with the rare and infectious parasite, according tot he Texas Department of Health. The Williamson County and Cities Health District has responded to more than 400 calls from people reporting the symptoms of Cryptosporidium: vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps. Source: Excerpts from Article in 8/5/98 Austin American-Statesman Newspaper, by Christian Davenport. 

Testimony before Florence City Council Regarding July 21 Chemical Dump and Florence Sewage Spill

An illegal dumping of over 1,000 gallons of an alkaline, unkown chemical occurred in Florence on Tuesday, July 21, 1998. This chemical caused the death of microorganisms at our sewage treatment plant. These microorganisms are needed in our plant for the decomposition and treatment of raw sewage. The chemical spillage and the subsequent death of microorganisms caused 213,000 gallons of partially treated sewage to flow into the Siuslaw River. The City was ordered to issue a shellfish warning which was lifted on the following Friday. Rick Mumpower referred to the dumping of this unknown chemical as "definitely a criminal act". I have several questions and concerns regarding this matter:

-- If this is a criminal act, as I agree that it is, why was this incident not reported to our local police?
-- Why was there no information regarding this incident in the Siuslaw News, or even the Register Guard? I received my information from the Oregonian and the Coos Bay World.
-- Why weren't the beaches closed?
-- Why weren't there public notices issued every half-hour on our local radio station?
-- How does Mr. Mumpower know that over 1,000 gallons were dumped?
-- Why not utilize our Auxiliary Police and have them go to the shores of the river and entrances to the beaches with signs and warnings to people to stay out of the water?
-- Was the City Council well informed of this incident? What action did they take?
-- Is not public health one of the most important issues?

Source: Testimony before August 3, 1998 City Council by Ali Shapiro.

Also see: 8/4 Texas Sewage Spill
Also see: Florence Sewage Spills

Link to: 7/22/98 Oregonian Article.

Citizens For Florence
P.O. Box 1212
Florence, Oregon 97439
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